Creating A New Normal
This is a summary transcription of my recent solo podcast. I talk about adapting to the world we now find ourselves living in, how our internal life can expand as our external one shrinks and how we might imagine a whole new normal. You can listen to the full episode here.
The last time I did a solo podcast was April and now it’s July. How the world has changed since April and how the world had changed in April since the beginning of the year!
That seems to be the way we’re living our lives now. It’s changing every minute, every millisecond. From one week to the next or one month to the next, it’s just all very different.
I’m more positive now than last time. Although I’m just as overwhelmed with where the world is and how we’re now going to be living.
I think the key thing is that now, it’s not about getting to the end of this, whatever this is. It’s about living with a whole new way of living, adapting, coping. Getting used to remembering your mask when you leave the house, remembering your hand sanitizer and to maintain your distance if near somebody not in your household.
As the world starts to open up, that doesn’t actually make me feel more confident. It makes me more nervous because I realize now that the onus is on us to make sure we stay healthy or do as much as we possibly can to stay healthy and keep everybody else healthy as well.
There’s definitely a shift in focus and I’ve always thought this about the mask wearing. I think when possible, it’s a good idea to wear a mask because it’s not so much about protecting us. It’s about protecting other people.
Whenever I’m having a little contretemps with my beloved about the levels of caution and care we need to have in place, for me it comes back to my mum. If I’m able to see my mom, I need to keep myself healthy and infection free, not for myself, but because I do not want to take anything to her.
I was finally able to go and see my mom. It had taken me a long time to pluck up my courage because I didn’t want to take anything to her coming from London.
My mom’s up in the Midlands and that’s actually got higher infection rates than London at the time of writing. It took a long time for me to feel confident that the infection rates around me had dropped, but also, that I had kept myself as infection free as I could to be able to go and see her.
When I first walked in, I was determined I was going to keep my distance and then I realized, it just wasn’t possible. She wasn’t gonna wear a mask all the time, we’d already had that argument before I got there.
What are you going to do in that situation? Are you going to wipe down every surface that you touch as you touch it?
I’m sure some of you will think I’m totally paranoid. Perhaps I am, but I’ve been stunned by the magnitude of this. I’m concerned about a second wave when it comes to Covid.
I think complacency will be our undoing. I just see what’s happening in the States. My son is over in the States.
Technically, he probably could get to me, but I can’t get to him and that’s a horrible feeling. I’m seeing the way that complacency in America is leading to just crazy levels of cases.
I wish they’d stop spouting on about their freedoms being curtailed and just wear the mask and get with the program.
One of the reasons I’m feeling more upbeat, even if I’m still a bit overwhelmed, is I’ve been talking to all these amazing women, particularly on the podcast, but also within my community and just generally connecting.
I think it’s really lovely that we have all of this technology now that enables us to do that. I know people are talking about Zoom fatigue, but I work in my office from home and I’m always using Zoom.
I’m always interviewing people on Zoom or just chatting, collaborating or whatever it might be. I’m very used to talking to people on camera and over microphones.
For me, it’s not a big deal, it’s just business as usual. It’s interesting that the world is being forced to do what my world is, which is rather nice for a change!
I’ve been talking to some amazing women. Like Angela Counsel who’s a naturopath from Australia. We talked about menopause, hormones and immune systems. As we may not realize, they are intrinsically linked.
Stress impacts our hormones and our immune systems. Looking after our immune systems will help our hormones and therefore help our menopause transition. The link between these is massive.
Go and listen if you want to get in the best possible shape to support your immune system (Menopause, hormones and immune systems with Angela Counsel) or click here to read the transcription.
You can’t boost your immune system overnight, but there are ways you can live your life that will enable you to have it as strong as it can be so that it can support you as, and when it needs to. Then, if we do get this infection, we can move through it swiftly.
We’ve also had all of the Black Lives Matter movement kicking off, and that has had a profound impact on me.
I’ve done two podcasts specifically on this. I just felt I needed to share the voices of the two women who were generous enough to come and talk to me.
The first one is Kwavi Agbeyegbe who’s just the most amazing woman. She came and talked to me particularly about her experience of racism.
She wasn’t born in the US, she’s an immigrant but she’s been there for over 25 years. She’s got two teenage sons. It was heart-breaking to hear her talk about her fear when they go out and knowing that they’ll be seen differently to other people who are not the same color as them.
The second episode was with Kimberly McCormick who has the most calm, beautiful and generous way of getting through white defensiveness about racism.
One thing I’ve learned as I tread carefully into this area is that I will get it wrong. If I get it wrong, I just have to say, I’m sorry, I got it wrong or if I realize that what I just said wasn’t particularly sensitive. I think it’s better to make those mistakes than to not try at all.
Kimberly explained that for black people born and bred in the US, everything they’re living with now is experienced through the lens of 400 years of oppression.
That’s of those things I knew in the back of my head, but focusing in on it, really thinking about it, sitting with it and trying to understand it is huge and can really shift the way we think about it.
All of this led me to read a couple of books and listen to a lot of podcasts. Brené Brown is doing some great podcasts about everything but particularly about Black Lives Matter.
The first book I read is “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad. I think all white people should go and read that book and do the work. We did it together in the Discussion Club in my group on Facebook, The Flock (for a magnificent midlife).
We had women from the US, South Africa and the UK. We were all but one of us white. We sat and talked about these issues and it was very empowering to be able to talk these issues through in detail, and be honest, vulnerable, and open about where we can go from here.
I read another book called “Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race ” by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which discusses the UK experience of racism.
A lot of people will think that they’re not privileged as a white person. They’ll say they had a difficult time in life, it hasn’t been easy, they are poor, don’t have a lot of money or even don’t have much status.
Reni Eddo-Lodge says this: “When I talk about white privilege, I don’t mean that white people have it easy, that they’ve never struggled or that they’ve never lived in poverty, but white privilege is the fact that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way, and you probably won’t even notice it.”
She goes on to say, “White privilege is an absence of the consequences of racism, an absence of structural discrimination and absence of your race being viewed as a problem first and foremost.”
That really hits it on the head for me because it’s that absence. As a white person, it’s difficult for me to appreciate something that’s an absence, which is a lack. It’s something not happening to me, rather than something specifically happening to me.
We also discussed tone policing, making the racism message palatable for sensitive white ears. This is a big issue I’ve heard about in the black community. They’re fed up with tone policing.
They’re fed up with the awful stereotype, for example, of the angry black woman, or just angry black person, but particularly when you’ve got a bit of misogyny in there as well.
I’ve learnt that to engage with this issue, I need to be able to hear the message regardless of how it’s communicated and not to switch off because it doesn’t sound nice. I found that really powerful.
White fragility is about where white people get defensive when talking about racism. It’s something we need to get over because it just closes down the discussion. It’s about when we get defensive and we say, we’re not racist because we see racism as a proactive racist act, but what I am now seeing is that our silence makes us racist.
That is what I’ve learned and why I’m gonna keep going on about this. This is going to be part of my campaigning now, just as much I hope as anti-ageism.
I’m hoping that this focus on one kind of prejudice will actually have a brilliant knock on effect to all kinds of prejudice.
Then we get into intersectionality, which I discussed with Claire Hodgson, one of the stars of the fabulous play Mid Life, which had a sell-out run at the Barbican theatre here in London.
She’s totally focused on diversity in the performing arts. We talked about intersectionality and the fact that for so many people, there are layers of prejudice.
Prejudice that they’re a person of color, a woman, not heterosexual, non-binary or trans, disabled and then of course over 45/50. You get the whole package of different types of prejudice.
Another inspiring woman on the podcast was Julie Owen Moylan, a Welsh writer who’ll be publishing her first novel soon. She taught me the wonderful phrase: making the most of our precious heartbeats. If we’re ever contemplating whether or not something is a good use of our time, then that’s the question to ask ourselves.
2020 feels to me like a year when absolutely everything has been thrown up in the air and we’re waiting to see where all the cards fall. I’m very keen that we don’t miss this opportunity to create something new, a new normal, something different and not just go back to doing what we’ve always done.
As we all adapt to this new world, I want you to remember that while our physical world may have shrunk, our mental and emotional world can expand and we can let it expand. There’s nothing to stop us from dreaming and planning what we want to do next while we’re in this stage of life.
Obviously, I know you may have difficulties with work, home life and finances. We’re all grappling with so many issues, but I hope there is still room in your life to continue or start really thinking about what you want your new normal to look like and not just to continue the way you always have.
2020 almost feels to me like the life marker of menopause, but on steroids. This year is forcing the world to rethink everything in much the same way that menopause often forces us to rethink things.
This is one of the themes of the podcast I did with Angela on menopause, hormones and immune systems. When we have menopause symptoms, they’re not symptoms of menopause as such that they are symptoms associated with menopause. Menopause exacerbates existing issues rather than necessarily causing them.
We have that moment in time when we can sit down and think about what we want and don’t want. What do we want to take forward? What do we need to change in terms of our diet, health or emotional wellbeing? This last is so important and has really taken a knock for many of us in 2020.
One thing I’m learning is that we have an incredible amount of power and resilience inside ourselves. It’s taken me a long time to realize we have these inner sources of strength on which we can draw, if we trust ourselves, if we look within and if we listen to our bodies.
I’m starting to journal for example, which I’m finding very powerful. I’m doing Morning Pages as set out in the book The Artist’s Way. This is where you sit down and free-write, a subconscious stream of thought and you don’t think too much about what you’re writing.
I’ve been doing that for a short while now and I’m finding it really powerful for getting stuff out of my head, centering myself and grounding myself. I would really recommend it. It’s interesting to me that it’s taken me five years to really embrace that. I knew about it when I first started on my entrepreneurial journey.
I like to share these things, because I don’t want other women to take as long as I did to find and develop the tools that enable us to really transition through midlife and have hopefully a magnificent next chapter!
Take some time to think about what you want in your life, as well as what you would like the world to look like and do not assume that just because this is the way it is, that’s the way it has to be. This simply isn’t the case. We have so much more power than we think we do, and we still have power even if our physical world is constrained.
I continue to be excited about the opportunities going forward both for us individually and for the world. I’m more and more excited about the potential for women in midlife and beyond stepping forward, not stepping back.
Don’t see yourself as invisible and then become invisible. Step forward. Start ranting. Become a keyboard warrior. Whatever it is. But make your voice heard because the world needs us.
I’ve never been more convinced of the fact that the world needs us. Women do not start wars, generally speaking. I can’t think of a woman who’s started a war. We don’t do that. We want consensus. We want to build community. We’re focused on what’s good for more of us rather than one of us. And if we’re going to be powerful then let’s be powerful as women. Let’s step into that feminine power. Let’s use what we have innately and not try and be something else.
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